The last post focused on a small collection of thematic material as selected, translated and annotated by Bhikku Bodhi. This week's article focuses on a much larger work of the Nikayas themselves. The Majjhima Nikaya, translated by Bhikku Bohdi and Bhikku Nanamoli as The Middle Length Discourses represents a large portion of the Tripitaka, or "Three Baskets", of teachings as presented by Buddhist practitioners through the Pali language (a precursor to Hindi). These works represent the teachings of Gautama Buddha as best remembered by his followers and constitute the earliest recordings of these teachings.
In The Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon was compiled, edited and arranged by the Bhikkhu Bodhi. His division of the work compiles ten thematic sections that range throughout the words and ideas of Gautama Buddha recorded in the ancient Hindi dialect of Pali. It is important to note that Gautama Buddha wrote none of these works, and that his words, stories, and instructions were memorized and transmitted orally from one generation to the next eventually over the course of time they were written down.
This Gita opens much as the other Gitas do with one of the characters asking for an exposition and answers to various questions that they have in mind. Seeming somewhat reluctant, the Brahmin and others begin the expositions. What is distinct about the Anugita is the much more prevalent use of simile, metaphor, and allegory. Stories and traditions are given a much higher place as well, and remain encapsulated within the dialogue. The poetic and prose images conveyed by the speakers are the strongest here in this particular Gita.